Michael Cummings

Michael Cummings Picture
Professor Emeritus
Political Science

Expertise Areas: Early Political Thought, Modern Political Thought, American Political Thought, Political Psychology, Practical Utopias, Youth Empowerment, Children's Voices in Politics

Ph.D., 1975, Stanford University

When I was six years old, living in a Veterans' Village in Cambridge, Massachusetts, an eight-year-old bully named Clifford terrorized the younger kids. One day, five of us decided that we had had enough, ambushed him, and extracted our revenge. He never bothered us again. That formative experience of "people power" inspired my lifelong belief that ordinary citizens, united, can change power relationships and improve the quality of their lives.

In 1972, while still working on my doctoral dissertation for Stanford, I had the opportunity to found the Political Science Deptartment at the University of Colorado Denver. Conceiving our topic of study as "the critical and creative study of people, power, and the public good," I began to hire a faculty committed to applying rigorous social-science theory and methodology to the most pressing problems of our local community and the larger world. Our keynotes have been values-based science, excellence in teaching, service to the community, multidisciplinary approaches, and personal engagement in the political process.

During the second half of my 40-year career at CU Denver, I have shifted my focus from department building to publication, while remaining committed to excellence in teaching. My publications in communal and utopian studies, American political thought and practice, and youth politics have focused on people's efforts, from childhood through maturity, to address critical problems and improve their own lives and those of others. The book I am currently working on, Children's Voices in Politics, develops the thesis that we come to politics too late if we want our democracy to engage its citizens on a regular, active basis. Part of my argument challenges the notion that a person's political voice should begin to count only at some predetermined, arbitrary age.

Cummings, Michael (2010) American Political Thought (with K. Dolbeare), Encyclopedia of Modern Political Thought, APSA/Congressional Quarterly Press (6000 words in press).

Cummings, Michael (2010) Political Correctness, Encyclopedia of Political Science, APSA/Congressional Quarterly Press (1500 words in press).

Cummings, Michael (2010) (with K. Dolbeare) American Political Thought 6th Edition   Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Press.

Cummings, Michael (2004) (with K. Dolbeare) American Political Thought 5th Edition   Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Press.

Cummings, Michael (2003) Intentional Communities and Mainstream Politics. Encylopedia of Community Sage/Gerkshire (pp. 698-700)

Cummings, Michael (2003) Emissaries of Divine Light. Encyclopedia of Community Sage/Berkshire (pp. 445-447).

Cummings, Michael (2002) Intentional Communities.  International Environmental Encyclopedia.  New York: Routledge.

Cummings, Michael (2001) Beyond Political Correctness: Social Transformation in the United States. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers.

Cummings, Michael (1999) The Transformation of U.S. Unions: Voices, Visions, and Strategies from the Grassroots Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers.

Cummings, Michael (1998) Transforming Public Policy: Beyond Affirmative Action. In: S. Woolpert, C. Seaton, and E. Schwerin, Transformational Politics: Theory, Study, and Practice (Albany: SUNY Press), pp. 215-231.

Cummings, Michael (1999) From the Horse's Mouth. In: (with Bishop, H.) Communities: Journal of Cooperative Living (12 column series).

Introduction to Political Science 1001
Early Political Thought 4407
Modern Political Thought 4417
American Political Thought 5457
Practical Utopias 5417
Political Psychology 5027
Beyond Political Correctness 5007